Sunday, November 02, 2008

October Report Card

Team Grades

Overall: C+ (W 6 - L 5 - OTL 0 - 12pts, GF 39 GA 35)
It's been an up and down start for the Vancouver Canucks 2008-2009 season and a tale of two teams, the one that plays in blue and the one that plays in white. After a dominating performance in the opener the Canucks embarked on a tough 6 game road trip which saw them pickup only 2 wins and also included a couple ugly losses in Washington and Buffalo, which oddly enough sandwiched arguably their best game of the season in Detroit. They returned home for two games, beating the Oilers and getting shutout by Thomas and the Bruins. They finished October with two big wins in California, managing to salvage the month. Despite the tough road trip the Canucks find themselves in pretty decent shape heading into November.
The Penalty Kill: C (PK% 79.3%, 46 for 58, SHG 2, Home 100%, Road 73.9%)
It's hard to put your finger on exactly what the problems were with the PK. A combination of luck, goaltending and defensive breakdowns resulted in a PK% under 80%. It's interesting to note that the PK is still perfect on home ice, but was abysmal on the road at 73.9%. If the Canucks are going to make the playoffs they need to improve on that number.
The Powerplay: B (PP% 20.8%, 11 for 53, Home 27.8%, Road 17.1%
Overall the Canucks power play was solid, however like the penalty kill there was a large discrepancy between home and road numbers. The road power play simply has to be better. Of note the Canucks are a Net -1 in the special teams goal department.

The Forwards

Ryan Kesler: A (GP 11, G 4 A 6 PTS 10, +3 18:10)
Kesler has started right where he left off last season. While anchoring the "checking line" he leads the team in points demonstrating that he is probably the teams most valuable forward. His strong statistics also include a 55.1% rate in the faceoff circle. The only downside to his game has been the team's slow start in the PK department.
Alex Burrows: A (GP 11, G 4 A 5 PTS 9, +6 16:09)
Along with Kesler, Burrows is off to an outstanding start. He is producing offensively, playing strong defensively all while still being his usual agitating self. Playing with a lot of confidence, especially when he has the puck. It's only one month, but it's worth noting Burrows is on pace for more than 60pts
Mason Raymond: B+ (GP 11, G 4, A 4, 8 PTS, +1 16:03)
While there may be lingering question marks surrounding Raymond's size and ability to play a full 82 game season, there are no question marks surrounding his ability to play at this level. There are still nights where he isn't very noticeable, but he is doing his job of putting up top 6 numbers.
Jannik Hansen: B (GP 11, G 3, A 4, 7 PTS, +4 13:57)
Hansen has been a great addition to the Kesler/Burrows duo, adding more speed and offensive skill to the "checking line". His point totals are great, but I would like to see him earning 15:00+ minutes a game. He can accomplish that by improving on his consistency (on the odd night he isn't very noticeable) and adding to his PK time by giving the coaches a reason to have more confidence in him.
Kyle Wellwood: B (GP 6, G 3, A 1, 4 PTS, +1 14:02)
As in the pre-season, Wellwood has managed to make the most of his (limited) opportunities. It's now up to him to see if he can earn more confidence from the coaching staff. There are still big question marks on his ability to not be a liability defensively. Currently he is averaging 10:24 at even strength. For him to add a real strong contribution to the team he needs to add another couple minutes to that total. If he does that he will put himself in a position to put up 50pts... if he doesn't he may find himself remaining at his current rate of only playing in half the team's games.
Henrik Sedin: C+ (GP 11, G 2 A 7, 9 PTS, -1 19:27)
It's funny how it seems like the Sedins are struggling yet Henrik is an assist shy of being on pace for 15 goal 60 assist season. However numbers aren't everything and the Canucks need much more consistent production from the Sedins.
Rick Rypien: C+ (GP 5, G 2 A 0, 2 PTS, -1 9:14)
Rypien was off to a great start, contributing a couple big goals and punching the crap out of opponents. Unfortunately his grade drops because of his continued inability to stay healthy. Let's hope this is the last injury for Rypien and not his last chance with the team.
Steve Bernier: C+ (GP 11, G 4 A 3, PTS 7, -2 14:58)
While his start with the Sedins has been a disappointment Bernier is still on pace for 30 goals and leads the team in hits with 27. Bernier's big body has been a nice addition to the top 6, but there is still more there. He needs to produce more consistently.
Ryan Johnson: C+ (GP 11, G 0 A 2, PTS 2, +1 11:21)
As advertised on TV... has double the blocked shots (18) as any other forward. Needs to improve in the faceoff circle (41%) and chip in the odd goal. Team PK, which he is a large part of (3:20 per game), also needs to improve.
Darcy Hordichuk: C (GP 9, G 0 A 0, PTS 0, -1 5:25)
Has done his job as team enforcer. Needs to earn some more ice-time and contribute more "momentum changing" shifts, along with the odd point. More divisional games would probably get him more involved, but there aren't many of those upcoming...
Daniel Sedin: C (GP 11, G 3 A 5, PTS 8, 0 19:04)
Three goals simply isn't good enough for Daniel. The Canucks cannot afford prolonged slumps by the Sedins, it's as simple as that.
Jason Krog: C (GP 3, G 1 A 0, PTS 1, 0 10:28)
Needs to capitalize on his limited opportunities if he wants to stay up with the Canucks. Being good on the draws isn't enough to get in the lineup consistently.
Pavol Demitra: C- (GP 6, G 2 A 1, PTS 3, -2 16:51)
Disappointing start for Demitra. After looking very good in the pre-season Demitra and his linemates were slow out of the gate and now Demitra is out of the lineup for a good chunk of games.
Mike Brown: C- (GP 4, G 0 A 0, PTS 0, -1 4:29)
Hasn't done anything but drop the gloves a few times. Gillis' decision to keep Brown over Pettinger is still very questionable.
Taylor Pyatt: D (GP 11, G 1 A 2, PTS 3, -1 15:11)
Status as the new fan whipping boy is well earned. With the exception of the last couple games Pyatt has simply been a non-factor. If the Canucks had a better alternative on the roster he would likely have found himself a healthy scratch on occasion. 7 minor penalties is a big red flag.

The Defensemen

Kevin Bieksa: B+ (GP 8, G 2 A 5, PTS 7, +2 23:47)
Bieksa has played his best hockey since signing his big contract. Frankly his play has been a big relief to Canuck fans. Still makes the odd miscue and is over aggressive at times, but overall his game is in pretty good shape. Perhaps the biggest sign of his strong play is that he has taken only 2 minor penalties.
Willie Mitchell B+ (GP 11, G 0 A 5, PTS 5, +6 22:01)
Strong defensive play has been augmented by some offensive production. Anchors the PK with nearly 5min per game shorthanded. Very solid start for Mitchell.
Sami Salo B (GP 9, G 0 A 5, PTS 5, -1 19:53)
Despite missing a couple games with a groin injury and not having scored, Salo is off to a solid start. The fact that he has only taken 1 minor penalty says a lot about how well he has played defensively. The offense should come eventually.
Mattias Ohlund: B (GP 11, G 2 A 2, PTS 4, -1 20:48)
Average start, average grade. Ohlund has been Ohlund.
Alexander Edler: B- (GP 11, G 1 A 4, PTS 5, +4 22:38)
Decent start for Edler, but he is capable of more. His game has struggled at times and he was taken off the PP by Vigneault who stated he wanted Edler to focus on the other parts of his game.
Shane O'Brien: C (GP 12, G 0 A 2, PTS 2, -1 15:03)
Has looked much better and comfortable recently, but it was a rocky start for O'Brien. Leads the team with 8 minor penalties, evidence that his mobility is a huge question mark.
Rob Davison: INCOMPLETE (GP 2, G 0 A 0, PTS 0, -1 14:41)
Missed both of his games, so no grade.
Lawrence Nycholat: INCOMPLETE (GP 3, G 0 A 0, PTS 0 -2 9:40)
Missed 2 of his games, so cannot grade fairly.

The Goalies

Roberto Luongo: C (GP 10, W 6 L 4 OTL 0, GAA 2.97, Sv% 0.901, SO 2
Rough start for the new captain. Has been outplayed by opposition goaltender too often and was not good at all on the long road trip. Five games with a save percentage under .900. Will be better in November.
Curtis Sanford: C (GP 2, W 0 L 1 OTL 0, GAA 3.75 Sv% 0.878, SO 0
Allowed 5 goals in his only start against Buffalo. Canucks need more out of Sanford if they hope to rest Luongo.

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